An interview with Diane Samuels
12 January 2016
Playwright Diane Samuels explains why an East End costumier’s workshop provided the perfect setting for her love story set just after the Great War.
We’re thrilled to welcome you back to Watford Palace Theatre with Poppy and George. Can you tell us about how the play came to be?
I'm delighted to be back at Watford after Kindertransport (1996) and The True-Life Fiction of Mata Hari (2001). Poppy and George first stirred into life when I was writer-in-residence at Theatre Centre in the early 1990s. I started researching women pirates of the seventeenth and eighteenth century and, because their outfits played such a part in how these fierce women created their identities, became more fascinated with how important clothes are in who we become in the world. So Smith's costumier and dressmaking workshop started to take shape. I wanted to take the audience into the place where it's possible to create whoever a person might long to be.
As with your award-winning play Kindertransport, the play explores the theme of identity. Why is this subject so intriguing to you?
One of the most compelling questions we can ask ourselves is: Who am I? The more you contemplate it, the more difficult it is to answer. Poppy and George is about how falling in love can enable you to discover who you really are, but this can be a challenge as much as a gift, because you confront the parts of yourself that make you uncomfortable.
Audiences will get a glimpse of Watford Palace Theatre’s heritage as a music hall, thanks to the character of Tommy, a variety performer who lightens the drama with his comic songs and routines. What else can they expect?
Audiences can enjoy a variety of costumes, a spirit of playfulness, and the magic of a creative workshop on stage, where people are challenged to step beyond their comfort zones to embrace their true potential.
Interview by Sophie Sellars